Nabatieh, November 14th, 2019: Born and raised in South Lebanon, Hanin holds a master’s degree in Communications Management and works for an NGO. As the revolution enters week four, she is convinced that "regardless of the ones trying to create tensions, we know that there are many smart, educated, open-minded people in unison out there on the streets."
How do you explain the ongoing uprising in Lebanon?
Long before the revolution started, young people would come together and debate. How did we get to this point? Why is all this happening to us? It used to be unfathomable to us why there was no one out on the streets protesting, revolting and demanding their rights. Why was nobody waking up, speaking up? Why was everybody hiding at home in fear? We had all these questions, but no answers. Just one day before the revolution began, we were sitting together talking about this great depression that had come over all of us and we realized that it’s our country that is making us feel that way, because we are completely detached from it. We cannot find ourselves in it. And then came the next day and we couldn’t believe what had happened1 .
The revolution started right before our eyes. And even though not many people went to the protests on that first day, it made us happy to see this initial push that swept across the whole country. We realized then we were not alone with our thoughts and feelings. What turned it all around was when the Minister of Education’s bodyguard started firing at peaceful protesters2 . This incident sparked major outrage. More and more people stopped being afraid and took to the streets. Me and my group of friends, we’re living in Nabatieh in South Lebanon. That night we went down to the streets at around 10 pm. It all started with a message on WhattsApp. We tried to convince people to come with us, we were just a small group in the beginning, but to our surprise more and more men, children and women came gathered within 15 minutes. Everything changed that day: roadblocks, garbage scattered everywhere, burning car tires, people raising their voices for their demands to be heard.
People are tired of their situation, so they took matters into their own hands. They burnt the garbage that had been piling up on the streets and they gathered in front of politician’s houses demanding an end to all corruption. When the news of what was happening in Nabatieh spread throughout Lebanon, so did the movement and people started following our example. Politicians and officials, however, did everything in their power to obscure our intentions. They highlighted incidents where they had been the target of insults, which led to rising tensions between protesters and political parties. Insults led to threats, and a number of peaceful protesters were arrested and injured. This is not what we set out to do. Our goal was not to insult anyone but to express our pain. They just didn’t want to listen.
What are your expectations from the government and political officials?
Unfortunately, there is not one common goal in Lebanon right now. Most protesters simply believe that they deserve a better country, that as citizens, they have a right to be protected from corrupt politicians. We want to be able to elect ministers and MPs into office who aren’t affiliated with any major political parties. We need to be able to trust the people that get elected, in the end it’s them, whose task it is to represent us and to protect and fight for our basic human rights. […]
This revolution is faced with political parties and individuals, working to spread discord. They’re fueling sectarian tensions and hate, which is putting us on the track to civil war. When these people unite behind their parties and push back in an aggressive manner, when they try to force protesters off the streets, they purposefully help frustration and tensions to catch on.
At the same time, social media has been the most powerful tool in our revolution. Social media is keeping people informed and creates a pathway for solidarity. Only through our social media networks, we can reach people and show them that these tensions and clashes are supposed to fuel hate between us. We know that we have to rise above them and not fall into their trap.
- 1The protest movement in Lebanon began on October 17th, 2019.